E.A. Sports Today

Secret sloths

Oxford wrestlers find inspiration in one of the world’s slowest creatures

Oxford freshman Matt King watches the action on another mat while holding the Yellow Jackets' 'game sloth.' The Jackets have used the furry creature as a rallying point this season. (Photo by Al Muskewitz)

Oxford freshman Matt King watches the action on another mat while holding the Yellow Jackets’ ‘game sloth.’ The Jackets have used the furry creature as a rallying point this season. (Photo by Al Muskewitz)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MONTGOMERY — The sloth has the reputation for being plodding, lazy and listless. Not necessarily qualities you want in a team that aspires to be state champions.

But the strange and furry creature has become the inspiration for a Oxford wrestling team looking to complete the Triple Crown of major tournaments this week when it takes 11 wrestlers to the state meet in Huntsville.

The Yellow Jackets won the Calhoun County Tournament last month and Saturday rolled to the Class 6A South Super Section team title. And the sloth has been there every step of the way.

It’s on their T-shirts and in their pictures. Just last week they got a stuffed “game sloth” to carry around on the mat.

Fun indeed, but don’t ask them about it. They could tell you, but they’d have to kill you. (Although you might get more out of them if you bought one of their T-shirts for $65; they’re more reasonable on the website.)

“I would tell you but I can’t; it’s through the team,” said senior 182-pounder Hunter Lee – and it was his idea. “Somebody might tell you, but it won’t be me.”

Good luck with finding that one. The Yellow Jackets guard the sloth’s secrets as if they were the nuclear launch codes.

“We can’t tell you, man; we’ve all been sworn to secrecy. I can’t tell you,” head coach Matt Tanner said. “It’s a team deal. It’s a secret and that’s what makes it so, I guess, inspiring. Nobody really knows and everybody wants to.”

“We’ve had people from Oxford come up to us and ask ‘What’s that all about?’ and we’re like, ‘I don’t know,’” added freshman 138 section champion Matt King, the most recent keeper of the game sloth.

What inquiring minds have been able to discover is the whole sloth mystique just “kind of transpired” one day at wrestling practice. The word sloth was brought up in whatever the conversation was of the day and it stuck. It wound up on a T-shirt template somewhere and now it has taken on a life of its own.

Didn’t the rally monkey start that way?

'Secret sloth' creator Hunter Lee stretches in the sloth T-shirt popular with Oxford wrestlers and their fans this season. On the cover, freshman Carson Lindsay carries his sloth away at the 6A South Super Sectional. (Photos by Selina Lee)

‘Secret sloth’ creator Hunter Lee stretches in the sloth T-shirt popular with Oxford wrestlers and their fans this season. On the cover, freshman Carson Lindsay carries his sloth away at the 6A South Super Sectional. (Photos by Selina Lee)



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